11/30/2008

Thanksgiving- Will Bathe for Food

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A lot goes in to getting ready to be thankful.  Some of us were not so thankful to be a part of the process.  But when it was time for the clean-up, we snuck right on in and took full advantage of the chaos...

 

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The humans wasted no time getting down to the heart of the matter...My sister and I were mainly glad we only cried once over Dad.  That came when it was time to say grace, his job. She couldn't remember the exact wording but was willing to say them...only I couldn't say them without crying.

We miss him bad.  But all in all, Darlene said, looking skyward, we're doing all right.

11/24/2008

Preparations and Procrastinations

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A trace of snow Friday morning put me in mind of confectioner's sugar and from there it wasn't a big leap into The Cookie Files...Luscious Lemon Snaps- a thin butter cookie coated in lemon glaze and sprinkled with tiny white candy dots, then Chocolate Toffee bark followed by good old Chocolate Chippers. 

All a part of the huge procrastination process leading up to The Monster Cleanup Before Thanksgiving.

Tomorrow the Eldest and Lovey get in from school for the long Turkey weekend.  My sister, "Darlene" drives in from New Bern on Thursday and her daughter will drive in from somewhere just outside Boone. 

By Thursday night the festival of food will be in full swing and the gauntlet signaling the advent of the Holiday Light and Retail Season will have been flung to the ground.

The retail angle will be smaller this year but the lights...well, there's no need to buy anything when the entire attic and the cabin barn are filled to the goozles with lights and reindeers. 

The potato gun is dusted off and ready to fire high up into the trees- the first step in hanging the chicken wire light balls.

It's time to move on- past the brilliant scarlet and orange flame that was fall and into the cold gray and white blaze of winter.

11/18/2008

11/15/2008

Life up at the Cabin- Misty Mountain Friday

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Yesterday was a good day for walking in the misty rain, then settling back in my armchair for a quiet day in the little cabin.

 

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While it's true a lot of the leaves have dropped, up on the hilltop the color peeked out at me through the swirls of low-hanging clouds.

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Deer tracks were everywhere, even by the front door- some brazen hussy must've tip-toed right up to the window boxes to nip a bit of the orange pansies.  Oh well. They were just pruning up the scragglers.

I took a path I hadn't walked along before and what should I find?  Just like the teapots, this bucket's bottom had rusted through. I don't know what the original cabin owners had going with sticking strange things on posts and in trees (an iron) but this way by far the most "normal" find to date.

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When I got back to the cabin, I made a pot of tea and settled down with another slew of "how to really write a best-seller" books. 

Before long, the day had passed and it was time to make the  drive back into town.

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11/11/2008

Tuesdays at the Nursing Home-The Art of Happiness

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Her hat is purple. Her sweatshirt is large and bright red, the huge hat embroidered on its front is rimmed with rhinestones but Emma's face is pale and gray.

"What's new?" I ask.

Emma likes when I dance in her room wearing boots and a wild skirt. She likes to sing "Them boots is made for walkin' and that's just what she'll do!" while I twirl around and flop down in mock exhaustion onto her bed.

For once, her nosy roommate is out of the room and not listening in.  Bessie is crabby and throws her two-cents-worth into our sessions whether we want to hear her opinion or not, so it's nice to have this time to ourselves for once.

"They wouldn't let me come down to the lunchroom today," she says, frowning.  She points to the tray that's been set before her.  A wilted hotdog and plain, unseasoned baked beans languish beneath a green plastic dome.

I cock an eyebrow and pretend not to know she and the nurse have been into it over Emma's refusal to bathe.

"I think they were giving a party for Bessie.  She's leaving, moving in with her niece or something."

Bessie, as it turns out, isn't going anywhere, but neither of us knows this yet.

"If they'd told me it was a goodbye party, I would've gone down there," she says.

I take this to mean she would've bathed but I'm too polite to say so.  In the nursing home, power and control are mighty hard to come by so I'm all in favor of people hanging on to what little they have.

Emma points to a picture, an abstract landscape hanging on her cork board, and says "I did that. You like it?"

I walk over to the board and bend down to examine it.  I note the tiny holes where she's pinned and re-pinned the worn, glossy reproduction to the wall.  I see the torn edge running along one side of the page where the picture's been torn from a book or magazine and give Emma the sharp-eye.  "You painted this? Really?"

"Yep," Emma says, her gaze never wavering from my own incredulous expression. "All by myself!"

"It's beautiful! What is it?"

Now, I know I'm not supposed to ask that. Hell, I learned that when the boys were in kindergarten. You're supposed to say "Tell me about your picture," and then wait.  But kindergarten was a long time ago and Emma's too sharp for that anyway.

"Ha!" she cackles. "I don't know what it is- you tell me!"

Told you she was sharp.

"It reminds me of mountains in fall," I say. 

I'm thinking perhaps Emma did paint this. Perhaps the art teacher made a copy of it because she wanted to hang the real picture down in the lunchroom.  In fact, I find myself coming up with every plausible reason I can think of to believe Emma's story.

"It's really beautiful," I say again.

"If you think it's that good, I reckon I should've signed it then, huh?" she says when I continue to inspect the picture.

I start to answer her but notice her attention has wandered. She is staring at the photo and seeing something far beyond it.

"It don't take much to make me happy," she says, her voice soft with some emotion I can't quite grasp.  "I know it's stupid little stuff, but I like it." She looks up and I see the sadness in her eyes and in the sad set of her jaw line.  "I tell you I got a son that's an artist?"

I remember. The businessman who divorced his wife and quit his job.  He moved to the country and lives in a cabin by a lake, where he paints alone by the waterside.

"The sad man by the lake?" I say.

Emma nods.  "You know, it don't matter how much money you got, if you don't like yourself, you'll never be happy."

I sit back down on her bed, pull my legs up under my cowgirl skirt and settle in for a good, long visit.  My friend, Emma, knows the truth.  Life isn't about what's on the outside. It isn't about how you look or even, mostly, how you smell. It's not about big homes overlooking the water or shiny, new toys. 

Life is all about what's on the inside.

11/08/2008

Log Cabin Home Remedies

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Two weeks ago, before the wedding weekend, the leaves were beginning to peak up at the cabin. 

 

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I should be there now.

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Stupid sniffles.

 

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Maybe the best cure for a cold isn't the homemade chicken soup I made today.  Maybe the best cure is a long ride in the car. 

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Fresh air and a visit to my sanctuary.

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11/06/2008

Partly Cloudy With a Chance of Sniffles

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For some reason, this picture seems to sum up how I feel...I have a cold and it's all I can do to keep the little cup balanced on top of my head...don't ask me to think or move or do much more than sit perfectly still.

No, no, I'm wrong...I feel, actually, more like this-

 

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I came back from the wedding weekend to find Her sitting in the living room, a left-over from Halloween.  I was too tired to do much more than move her into the dining room for the birthday festivities we were about to have for the Eldest Unnamed One's 20th.

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Lovey and I thought the bullet hole in her head was a bit much for a birthday, so we used under-eye concealer, a bit of bright plum lipstick and added the mask.

I suppose just stuffing her in the closet would've been the easiest way to handle the situation...

11/04/2008

Trick or Treat Wedding -Part One

We were 45 minutes late to the rehearsal dinner and the sudden silence in the hall was palpable as my sister, Darlene, and I followed my nephew, the Groom-to-be, into the room.

For an awkward moment the two of us stood frozen, pinned like butterflies beneath the magnifying glass of disapproval emanating from the long tables of out-of-town family members, future in-laws and wedding attendants.

But then the Wicked Witch of the West jumped to her feet and shouted "Oh, dear, they've missed the Eyeball Soup! Quick, somebody get them some soup!"

I was grateful for the diversion. Almost.

Mainly I was staring back at the rest of the room and thinking, I could use this in a book but who would believe it?

My sister's Ex, walks up to us.  He's dressed as a chef- wearing a white, double-breasted jacket, herringbone-checked pants, a tall white hat and...was that a...a bloody cleaver sticking out from the top of his head? 

"Good to see you again," he says.  "You must try the eyeball soup." My preciousssss

I blink.  As my sister apologizes profusely for being late, my niece and her boyfriend slip past us and melt into the crowd.

Darlene talks too much when she's nervous but who could blame her? How do you carry on witty repartee when your Ex is sporting a bloody Mohawk and your snarky sister is murmuring,  "How appropriate!" in your ear?

Perhaps it's easier to be dignified and gracious when you are Cleopatra. 

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I wouldn't know as I am just a tired-looking old woman in a blue, ice fairy costume.

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No, it's not what's on the outside that makes Darlene the better woman.  She is just a nice person.  She tells her Ex, Eyeball Soup would be lovely and I'm pretty sure she she means it. 

She slips into a seat beside a woman in a skeleton costume and I slink into a chair beside Darlene and try to fade into the background.  Seconds later we are dipping silver spoons into bowls of Tomato Soup and cautiously exploring the floating balls of Mozzarella Cheese that have been topped with sliced green olive "pupils."

My niece is sitting at the table across from ours. She is dressed as Little Red Riding Hood and her boyfriend is beside her, safely hidden behind his giant, Big Bad Wolf mask.

The Mother of the Bride is Tinkerbell. Her husband, a white-haired wraith of a man, is a dressed as a Nordic Viking king.  A cute girl wearing a low-cut Peter Pan costume appears beside us holding plates with "Leg of Fowl" and "Boo Taters."  She sets a dish down and I do a double-take.  A giant turkey leg almost eclipses three tiny, potato klansmen, oh, right-ghosts, with black, sesame seed eyes.

The weekend is only just beginning...

 

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